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  • Nightmare
  • Written by Joan Lowery Nixon
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780440237730
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  • Nightmare
  • Written by Joan Lowery Nixon
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307433589
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Written by Joan Lowery NixonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Joan Lowery Nixon

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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: December 18, 2007
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-43358-9
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Emily has never fit in her overachieving family. Instead of getting straight As, she sits in the back row and hides behind her hair. As a result, her parents have enrolled her at Camp Excel—an academic camp for underachievers—for the summer. Emily doesn’t want to go, and not just because she feels it isn’t necessary. She’s been plagued by a recurring nightmare since she was a child. And there’s something about this camp that feels familiar—has she been there before? Why can’t she remember?

With the help of two new friends, Emily discovers that her nightmare is not just in her head. Someone at Camp Excel has a secret—and will do anything, even murder, to keep Emily from uncovering the truth.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1



Shades and shadows slithered over and around her, trailing wisps of damp air, sticky-sweet honeysuckle, and the acrid smell of rotting leaves. Her heart pounded, and she grunted with exertion, struggling to get through the tangle of vines, knowing--even in her sleep--what she would find when she broke free. The crumpled body lay half in, half out of the water, eyes stretched wide with horror, mouth open in a scream no one could hear.

In her nightmare the body was always there.



Emily Wood's mother twisted, reaching from the front seat of the car to clutch Emily's knee. "Wake up, love," she said, her voice filled with concern. "You're having a bad dream again."

Emily gasped for breath as she opened her eyes to the overbright early-afternoon sun that flooded the car. In spite of the air-conditioning, she was clammy with sweat, and her mouth felt dry and fuzzy. She struggled to sit upright, pushing back damp strands of the curly, pale hair that had fallen over her face, and willed the familiar nightmare to vanish from her mind.

Mrs. Wood's face sagged with worry. "Emily, if you would only tell us about the dream and talk about why it frightens you . . . perhaps if we found a good therapist--"

"It's only a stupid dream, Mom. It doesn't mean anything. I don't want to talk about it. I just want to forget it."

"But this nightmare has recurred ever since you were a little girl, and now you're sixteen--almost seventeen. Isn't it time that--"

"Mom! Please!"

Emily's father, Dr. Robert Wood, quickly glanced from the road, then back again. "Let it go, Vicki," he said softly. "We're almost there."

Mrs. Wood swung forward, ducking her head and burrowing her shoulders into the contoured padded leather of the passenger seat. "I was only trying to help her," she complained, as if Emily couldn't hear. "She has never let me help her. It's like her hair. If she just let me take her to a good stylist . . ."

Emily didn't respond. She was tired of trying to explain to her mother that talking about it would make the nightmare more real. The bad dream had first popped into her mind, terrifying her, when she was much younger. Had she been eight? Ten? And every now and then it would unexpectedly reappear. The dead body . . . the blood on its face . . . the sickening smell of too-sweet honeysuckle blossoms. Emily was completely puzzled about the nightmare and what it might mean. She had never told anyone what she saw in the dream. She was sure she never would.

The car slowed and turned into a wide drive under an arched sign that read camp excel.

Emily made a face. Camp Excel? Who did they think they were kidding?

Her mother sat upright and, in what Emily thought of as her let's-all-be-in-a-happy-mood voice, began commenting about the beautiful rolling hills and the bursts of gold black-eyed Susans and pale Queen Anne's lace that dotted the roadside. Her father added a few enthusiastic comments about the beauty of the Texas Hill Country in contrast to the flatness of Houston, but Emily slumped against the backseat, unable to believe what was happening to her.

It had been no surprise when teachers had labeled her an underachiever. The surprise was that anyone expected her to do any better. Her oldest sister, Angela, had aced every test she'd ever taken. She'd been valedictorian of her high school graduating class and was now among the top ten at Harvard Law School, planning some day to join their mother's law firm. Monica, next in line, was also valedictorian. She had chosen to follow in their father's medical footsteps and attended the University of Southern California, majoring in premed.

Angela and Monica gave speeches, led programs, and walked across stages to win honors and medals. The idea of trying to match what her sisters did, in rooms filled with eyes staring at her, terrified Emily. Content to disappear in any crowd and in any classroom, Emily was comfortable being little known and hardly ever noticed. She didn't even mind being classified as an underachiever, if that was what it took to be invisible.

Emily suppressed a sigh, wishing everyone would just leave her alone. It was plain bad luck that her tenth-grade guidance counselor had called her parents, excited about Camp Excel, a new, intensive six-week experimental summer program for students who were not performing to their abilities.

"It certainly wouldn't hurt to send you, darling," Mrs. Wood had announced at the dinner table. "Nothing else--rewards . . . tutors . . . praise . . . Nothing we've tried has helped." She had tucked a loose strand of her light, gray-streaked hair behind her ears and had smiled encouragingly at Emily. "According to Mrs. Carmody, Dr. Kendrick Isaacson has developed an absolutely marvelous summer program to help underachievers learn to do their best. He's gaining fame among both psychiatrists and educators."

"I never heard of him," Emily had said. "I bet you didn't, either, until Mrs. Carmody told you about him."

"Of course I have. His field is psychology. Patty Foswick, my friend in Dallas, has raved about him and urged me to take you there for an evaluation. But I realized that Dallas would be too far away for you to do any extended work with him, but in the Hill Country resort they're using for the summer school--"

Emily's father had interrupted. "Is he in private practice?"

"No," Mrs. Wood had answered. "He's one of the founders of the Foxworth-Isaacson Educational Center in Dallas."

Emily had dropped her fork with a clatter, her fingers suddenly unable to hold it. For an instant she was numb, unable to see or breathe or think.

"Emily?" she'd heard her father ask from a long distance away. "Emily? Is something the matter?"

Gripping the edge of the table, Emily had forced herself to take a deep breath. As she'd felt her mother's hand clamp onto her forehead, she'd opened her eyes. "I--I'm okay," she'd said. "For a moment I just . . ."

She couldn't finish the thought. She had no idea why she'd suddenly felt a horrible fear rush through her body. It didn't make sense, so there was no way she was going to say anything to her parents about it. She'd repeated the words over again in her mind, The Foxworth-Isaacson Educational Center. Had she heard the name before? She had no recollection of it. So why had it made her so afraid? Emily could find no explanation.

"She isn't running a fever," Mrs. Wood had said, and had taken her hand away. "But did you see, Robert? The color absolutely drained from her face. I thought she was going to faint. Is there some new virus going around Houston?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary," he'd answered.


From the Hardcover edition.
Joan Lowery Nixon

About Joan Lowery Nixon

Joan Lowery Nixon - Nightmare

Photo © Gittings

“In every story I write I give a great deal of thought to the main character, because the story is his, or hers. The direction of the story is determined by the main character’s ambitions and reactions. The main character is the one to whom the readers will relate.”—Joan Lowery Nixon

Joan Lowery Nixon is the only four-time winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award and a two-time winner of the California Young Reader Medal.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Whether it’s engrossing historical dramas, chilling mysteries, suspense-filled page-turners, or adventure stories, kids, teachers, and librarians love the books of Joan Lowery Nixon.

Nixon is half Californian, half Texan. She has a degree in journalism and credentials in elementary education. Nixon has written over 130 books for children from preschool age through young adult—including science books, co-authored with her husband, geologist Hershell Nixon. Her books have garnered numerous awards and accolades, including the Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile and the Texas Institute of Letters Award. Many of Nixon’s books have won state children’s choice awards. She is the only four-time winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. Nixon has four children and several grandchildren.

Nixon describes the pleasure she gets from writing mystery and suspense: “When I was young I discovered an evening radio program called I Love a Mystery. It was intriguing, suspenseful, and at times absolutely terrifying, and the title was correct. I did love a mystery—on radio, in films, and especially in books. Maybe I’m really a detective at heart because much later in my life, when I began to write books for young people, I discovered writing mysteries was even more fun than reading them.

“A mystery begins to develop in my mind when something sparks an idea and a question grows from it. What would it be like to move into a house in which a murder had taken place? How would I feel if my best friend were arrested for murder on circumstantial evidence? As a question develops into an answer, I give a great deal of thought to my main character. She is the most important part of the story, and I see it take shape through her eyes. Before I write a word of the story I know how I’ll begin it and how I’ll end it, making sure to put in honest clues and distracting red herrings—just to make the mystery all the more fun to solve. I love mysteries, and I want my readers to love them, too.”

In creating the acclaimed Orphan Train Adventures, Nixon explored a time and place in America’s recent past that is not widely covered in history lessons. She explains, “It was a part of history I hadn’t known: that beginning in 1854, over 100,000 homeless children were rescued from the streets of New York City and sent by train to new homes in the West. As I researched early journals, I found many letters—some hopeful, some sad—and reports which told of tears as brothers and sisters were separated or a child was not chosen. I wanted to bring history and fiction together in an exciting, adventurous time and place, to tell the stories of those who could have traveled west on the Orphan Train.”

Many of Nixon’s readers have written to her asking how to get published. Her novel The Making of a Writer, a part memoir, part how-to book, is her answer to them. From her first publication at age 10—a poem titled “Springtime”—to her graduation from Hollywood High during World War II, Nixon shares the incidents from her childhood that helped her to develop as a writer.


PRAISE

THE KIDNAPPING OF CHRISTINA LATTIMORE
“A fast-moving, entertaining mystery with an intelligent and spunky heroine.”—Booklist

MURDERED, MY SWEET
“Another solid Nixon mystery without too much violence and lots of suspense.”—Booklist


THE NAME OF THE GAME WAS MURDER
“Another successful page-turner. . . . Reluctant readers and mystery lovers alike will welcome a trip to this mansion.”—School Library Journal

SEARCH FOR THE SHADOWMAN
“Thrilling . . . a riveting tale of suspense set against a background of fascinating historical context brought up to date through e-mail and the Internet.”—School Library Journal

SPIRIT SEEKER
“Enriched with family troubles, guilty secrets, and a whiff of the supernatural, this page-turner will please the legions of Nixon fans.”—Kirkus Reviews

THE WEEKEND WAS MURDER!
“Masterfully constructed. . . . Ingeniously plotted, fast-paced and lighthearted, this mystery manages to blend an engrossing double murder brainteaser with the blossoming of a self-conscious teen into a self-assured young woman.”—Publishers Weekly

WHISPERS FROM THE DEAD
“Nixon’s reputation as the grande dame of mysteries for young readers remains solidly intact with this thriller . . . a topnotch choice.”—Starred, School Library Journal


THE ORPHAN TRAIN ADVENTURES

A FAMILY APART
“As close to perfect a book. . . . The plot is rational and well-paced; the characters are real and believable; the time setting is important in U.S. history; and the values all that anyone can ask for.”—VOYA

IN THE FACE OF DANGER
“This exciting and touching novel projects an aura of historical reality.”—School Library Journal

THE ORPHAN TRAIN CHILDREN SERIES

LUCY’S WISH
“There is suspense, surprise, and heartfelt emotion, and there is a useful historical note at the end.”—Booklist
Awards

Awards

WINNER 2004 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
WINNER 2004 Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List
NOMINEE 2007 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award

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